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The NSW government has been praised for taking events tourism “seriously” after committing an additional $123.35 million spend in the sector to double overnight visitor expenditure by 2020 and make Sydney the number one destination for major events.

The 25% increase in the budget will see over $643 million spend over four years to make Sydney the number one destination for major events, including $22 million for Western Sydney. The funding aims to secure more major events and boost visitor expenditure by around $481 million.

This news is a welcome announcement from the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), with chief executive Margy Osmond saying the announcement proves the NSW government still values tourism.

“Already, in NSW tourism supports more than 267,000 jobs, 158,000 of these directly,” Osmond explained. “This means nearly 1 in every 14 jobs in the state relies on a strong visitor economy.”

“Major events are a key driver in the decision to visit NSW from interstate or abroad. They act as the ‘cherry on top’ of an already world-class destination,” Osmond said.

The Baird government spend also includes up to $40.6 million to grow regional tourism and $9.5 million to target overseas visitors from key markets.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) acting ceo, Carol Giuseppi said despite taking a “long time” for governments to “understand the substantial impact that events, conferences and exhibitions can deliver”, it has demonstrated its commitment to the tourism sector with the rebuilding of the Sydney convention and exhibition centre and now the extra funds to support growth.

“The new investment will particularly benefit Western Sydney, which now has world-class venues and new or expanded hotels to support the hosting of conferences and events,” Giuseppi said.

“We are encouraged by the commitment to attract more events and conferences to regional NSW, because while Sydney’s hotel and tourism venues have performed strongly in recent years, many areas in regional NSW are in need of considerable stimulus.”

Meanwhile, Accor, the largest hotel operator in Australia, also welcomed the move, with chief operating officer, Simon McGrath saying the extra funding will give Sydney the “competitive edge” over other state capitals and even major event cities in Asia Pacific.

“Pleasingly the Baird Government understands that tourism has moved into the top three of economic contributors in most countries worldwide,” McGrath said.

“Events are no longer optional extras in tourism, in fact they are the number one way to stimulate a dynamic tourism market. The momentum in Sydney now is impressive and competitive on an international scale, so with the commitments from the Baird Government and Destination NSW it is sure to underpin a decade ahead of strong tourism growth.”

“Sydney is now well placed to far exceed major event activities in any of the other states and subsequently will lead the growth and possibly even take market share,” McGrath said.

The TTF is expected to release its agenda for tourism in NSW over the coming weeks.

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